telephoto lens tests 500mm f4.5l 400mm 5.6l 35-350mm 3.5-5.6l 500mm f8 1.4x

Started Apr 10, 2014 | User reviews thread
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mjkshots Regular Member • Posts: 132
telephoto lens tests 500mm f4.5l 400mm 5.6l 35-350mm 3.5-5.6l 500mm f8 1.4x

Hi, I just ran a series of test shots regarding telephoto / super telephoto lenses indoors in low light, slow shutter speeds. this test was ran on subjects that were stationary. The focus speed of the lenses used while conducting my test was irelevent though I tried to get each image as crisp as I could using the lens's auto-focus system when availible. Note With the fd lenses the I.Q. is not its true I.Q. I used a Albinar FD-EOS (GLASS ELEMENT) INFINITY FOCUS ADAPTER/CONVERTER ($35) I find this is an amazing product for the price it's a must if you own old manual lenses that are collecting dust! A relitivly sharp eye is a must with manual focus lenses and it takes some time, technique and skill to get a crisp shot with a manual focus lens. I would like everyone to know I did this test for fun and to show what I personally achived with each lens, to compare some aspects of each lens, price, size, I.Q. build, and perfomance, all of the gear I have tested is well used and nothing is brand new anymore, could everything be cleaned, calibrated and refined for better a I.Q? yup! but this is now, so heres some of my thougts and some images.

The camera body I used to shoot all of the photos was a canon 1D MARK II BODY.


-ISO 400

-Evaluative metering,

-all lenses wide open.


-standard parameters

-color matrix- 1standard

-no flashes/STROBES

The images I shot were taken inside of my house using open blinds on 3 windows alowing the foggy days light to shine on the subjects, also one overhead (10'cellings) light fixture W/ two soft white 3000k halogen bulbs for a bit of extra light(not much).

The focus point I amied for in each shot of the light switch was the top left screw on th light switch. The focus area I aimed for on the plant was a leaf about front and center.

approx. distance from the subject.
-approx 33' away using the fd 500mm lenses
-approx 27'using the ef canon 500mm sigma apo 500mm canon ef 400mm w/ canon 1.4x attached 35-350mm w/ 1.4x attached
-approx 21' away using the 400mm and 35-350mm 5.6 lenses

Each shot was taken using a tripod and a timed remote switch ( tc-80n3 ) set to 3 seconds after the subject was in focus, the camera/tripod/lens was perfectly still, I did not apply the mirror lock-up on my camera.

I tried framing the subjects the same, but with each tripod foot being at differant heights and each lens being slightly different in lengths and focal lengths the images when compared side by side are not identical. but you can see the similarities.

First thing for me and for most others out there is the price. Lenses are not cheap as most know, back in the day I used my standard lens and attached a tele-converter to the front filter mount that I bought used for under $10 because I was broke and could barely affored to develop my images. while This technique worked well for me for years, I moved on...this test is to help others find the right lens at the right price, I wish I could help those looking in the $10-17k lens price range to make there choice, but as for now this is my highest end gear, some day I hope I will be able to test the latest and greatiest gear and when I do I wil do more tests

L- R SPIRATONE F8, 400MM 5.6L, 500MM 4.5L, SIGMA APO 500MM, FD 500MM F4.5L BELOW 35-350MM 3.5-5.6L

lenses listed from price high to low (AVERAGE ONLINE PRICES I FOUND) used in this test.

Canon ef 500mm f/4.5L discontinued, used average price $3600 great lens! heavy yet compact enough to carry around and hand hold shoot for a solid couple of hours before becoming completely exhausted

Canon ef 500mm f/4.5L

shadow hawk canon ef 500mm f4.5L

This is the fastest and most powerful lens I own, if I didn't own one I'd be working hard and saving for one though it is a bit heavy and hard to shoot handheld for long periods of time it is worth lugging it around and the payoff is great!

canon fd 500mm f/4.5L discontinued, used, average price $1600

lighter and smaller than the ef version, tack sharp (even with the albinar glass adapter) love this lens Ive been amping to get a conversion kit for it, and started working on my own in the mean time nothing perfect yet.

canon fd 500mm f/4.5L a little beat up (a lot) still sharp as a razor! I cant wait to convert it!

tagged hawk canon fd 500mm f4.5l lens albinar fd-eos converter

manualy focusing is a bit more work and challanging than shooting with the newer auto focus systems but the glass on this lens is so great! and it seems to work good with the Albinar adapter I must say.

sigma APO 500mm F/4.5 discontinued, used, average price $1500

BIG Bang for your buck! auto focus! 500mm! and fast F4.5! but the apo lenses freeze a lot of cameras, this lens's technology wont allow the camera to stop down the aperture, but it works 100% the original 1d and 1ds, I assume all earlier eos film bodies and digital bodies like the 10d, d30 and 60 should work fine as well. WITH THE REAR 30.5MM FILTERS YOU CAN GET N.D. NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTERS, THUS GET SOME SLOWER SHUTTER SPEEDS AND HIGHER YOU ISO IF WANTED, AND SHOOT IN BRIGHTER LIGHT.



CANON EF 400MM F/5.6L NEW $1,350, used, average price $1100

Best travel prime lens EVER! light, crisp, sharp, fast, silent, small, compact and SO powerful! i've babied this lens for a decade and it is still working like new! also most of my favorite shots were taken using this lens. i know a few people who are sold on this lens, check out some of josh gill's work with the 400mm f5.6L lens @


NATHAN HEDGES 2012 CANON 400MM F5.6L @ISO 160 F5.6 1/320SEC

canon ef 35-350mm f3.5-5.6L discontinued, used, average price $1000

my most commonly used lens! sharp and very versicle, I LOVE THIS LENS!

CANON 35-350MM F3.5-5.6L

canon ef 35-350mm f3.5-5.6l shot @ 140mm f5 1/1600 sec

I have traveled a lot using this lens, it shows with the wear and tear, its my right had lens this image shows it works good even in the middle range.

spiratone fd 500mm f/8 fixed aperture mirror/reflex discontinued, used, average price $60



spiratone 500mm fixed f8 mirror lens f10 w/ albinar fd-eos adapter) @ iso 400 f10 1/1000 sec 1d mark II

lens attachments
Canon ef 1.4x discontinued, used, average price $200



albinar fd-eos adapter/converter, (glass element, infinity focus) new, average price $35





Canon ef 500mm f4.5L lens

canon ef 500mm f4.5L @ iso 400 f 4.5 1/60sec

canon ef 500mm f4.5L @ iso 400 f 4.5 1/60sec

canon fd 500mm f/4.5L (615mm F/5.6 with albinar adapter/1.25x extender)

canon fd 500mm f4.5L @ iso 400 f 4.5 1/60sec with albinar fd-eos adapter

canon fd 500mm f4.5L @ iso 400 f 4.5 1/60sec with albinar fd-eos adapter

sigma APO 500mm F/4.5

sigma APO 500mm F/4.5 @ iso 400 f 4.5 1/60sec

sigma APO 500mm F/4.5 @ iso 400 f 4.5 1/60sec


CANON EF 400MM F5.6L ISO 400 1/40SEC

CANON EF 400MM F5.6L ISO 400 1/40SEC

CANON EF 400MM F/5.6L @560mm (F8) with canon 1.4x teleconverter

CANON EF 400MM (560MM)5.6L W/1.4X F8 ISO 400 1/20SEC

CANON EF 400MM (560MM)5.6L W/1.4X F8 ISO 400 1/60SEC

canon ef 35-350mm f3.5-5.6L @350mm

CANON EF 35-350MM F3.5-5.6L ISO 400 1/40SEC

CANON EF 35-350MM F3.5-5.6L ISO 400 1/60SEC

canon ef 35-350mm f3.5-5.6L @490mm (F8) with canon 1.4x teleconverter

CANON EF 35-350MM F3.5-5.6L ISO 400 F5.6 (F8) W/ 1.4X 1/40SEC

CANON EF 35-350MM F3.5-5.6L ISO 400 F5.6 (F8) W/ 1.4X 1/40SEC

spiratone fd 500mm f/8 fixed aperture mirror/reflex (615mm F/10 with albinar adapter/1.25x extender)

spiratone 500mm f/8 ISO 400 1/10SEC

spiratone 500mm f/8 ISO 400 1/40SEC

Well there you have it! 6 lenses tested under the same condition. I will update this thread with more sample images I have previously taken, and with future pics as well, my main reason for doing this test was to enjoy all these lenses before I sell them and to help compare them for others! I hope this helps someone out there

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